One of the observations made here (not necessarily by me, this is not a credit claiming exercise) is that there is a connection between changing marriage laws for one thing and for another.
In particular, there is a likelihood that once marriage laws have changed to remove the constraint that the contract is between a man and a woman, it will not be long before other constraints will be removed. The most likely such removal is the constraint that marriage be between only two people.
Such a move is being made in Utah. (OK, no great surprise there!) Kiwis may have seen a report about this on Stuff a few days ago. Jonathan S. Tobin offers his reflections here. I want to offer some of his work on the connections between same sex marriage and polygamous marriage.
"Once you blow up a societal consensus it cannot be easily reconstructed to protect only those practices or beliefs you like while still banning those you think ought to be kept beyond the pale. That’s the upshot of a case decided late on Friday in a Federal District Court in Salt Lake City, Utah that essentially decriminalized polygamy."
"While gay marriage advocates have sought to distance themselves from anything that smacked of approval for polygamy, Waddoups’s ruling merely illustrates what follows from a legal trend in which longstanding definitions are thrown out. The inexorable logic of the end of traditional marriage laws leads us to legalized polygamy. Noting this doesn’t mean that the political and cultural avalanche that has marginalized opposition to gay marriage is wrong. But it should obligate those who have helped orchestrate this sea change and sought to denigrate their opponents as bigots to acknowledge that the end of prohibitions of other non-traditional forms of marriage follows inevitably from their triumph."
"But liberals like Turley still refuse to acknowledge that Justice Antonin Scalia was right when he predicted in his dissent in Lawrence that the demise of sodomy laws would lead to the legalization of some things that advocates of gay rights wanted no part of. If we have “evolved” to the point where marriage by any two consenting adults of either sex should be recognized by the state, then there isn’t any logical or legal rationale for prohibiting the same privilege for any number of citizens cohabiting to claim the same right.
All that is needed is a little candor on this issue on the part of critics of the dwindling band of opponents of gay marriage. The floodgates have been opened, and if that makes some of us uncomfortable, especially those who understandably view polygamy as synonymous with the exploitation of women, then we should be honest enough to acknowledge that it is merely part of the price that had to be paid to give gays the same right to marry afforded to other citizens."
"Oh," you might say, living Down Under, "We are not in Utah." True. But we are part of the Western world which seems very desirable to people who come from countries which tolerate polygamy. It is just a matter of time and the pressure will come.
Now it strikes me that there are two directions response in liberal social democracies could go. One is to seek to revoke the changes we have made, on the grounds that we didn't know what we were unleashing. Well, good luck with that! There were folk who tried to make the point and were dismissed as worry warts.
Another direction is a bit of frankness and honesty: yes, we have made changes, we didn't know what we were unleashing, but that is okay because we believe in same sex marriage with such commitment that if consequentially there is legalization of polygamy then so be it. The price of exploitation of women is a price worth paying.
Or is Jonathan Tobin just another worry wart?
Those inclined to think he is over anxious, if you are prepared to comment here, could you please articulate for ADU readers on what rational grounds a Western state would approve same sex marriage but not approve polygamy. Thank you!
Supplementary question: When Jesus said there were many things he had to teach us which we could not yet bear, did he have polygamy in mind? (H/T MCJ)
Aside: great article here re Scripture, reason, tradition